Complementing the analysis of flight data, collected directly from the aircraft, with other databases to study some of the risks that every airline manages daily in their operations was the challenge launched by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to more than 30 member states. A breakthrough aimed at increasing operational safety, demanded by the industry, and made possible by a team of TAP engineers.
Flight Data Monitoring expert Pedro Soares and Safety Risk Management specialist Bernardo Lourenço participate in the working groups of the European Operators Flight Data Monitoring Forum (EOFDM) and have developed work that is now recommended by EASA as best practice to implement by operators around the world.
These working groups are largely made up of large operators, but the work is done in a truly global context of knowledge building in the aviation industry, which has completely different realities and also very diverse fleets, building the industry overview in terms of flight data monitoring. Bernardo Lourenço explains that “it is the opportunity to be in a forum with decision makers and deal with what is expected to become legislation over time and we are already involved in what will happen. This allows us to anticipate some types of procedures and forms of action that will exist and adapt or create them in the company. The gain this brings us is not quantifiable at the outset, but we see that it comes later, in our daily work, when we realize that it helps us structure processes".
Pedro Soares and Bernardo Lourenço who are, respectively, members of TAP's Safety and Safety Intelligence and Risk Management teams.
The analysis of approaches to Funchal airport in Madeira using terrain databases is the pioneering model implemented by TAP and now recognized by the European regulator EASA. It is the use of a database that maps the entire land surface and allows the analysis of the percentage of warnings issued by the Terrain Warning and Prevention System (EGPWS) to pilots that are effectively validated and that mean proximity to the terrain. below the established limit. In the case of Funchal, the movement of the airplane on approach to the runway implies a continuous turn which when interrupted may lead to the activation of a warning that may cause the pilot to blunt, canceling the maneuver, and causing a new approach to the runway. The difference between the warning being activated or not can be due to a short distance, defined by a very complex computer algorithm. According to Pedro Soares, "The work consisted of modeling the surrounding terrain in the airport area, based on the terrain data map, to construct the envelope (security zone) for this maneuver. If we have the terrain mapped by cells, whenever the envelope (shown in yellow in the image below) penetrates one of the terrain cells, a warning is generated. So when Safety Risk's area detects any such situation, the flight data and the terrain database are combined for a more detailed and accurate analysis".
The use of this technique on flights with “Terrain Ahead” warnings has enabled the engineering team to conclude that it is “a very reliable model, mainly because of the visual perspective that this tool provides,” adds Pedro Soares. The idea was launched in one of the EASA working groups and was developed as part of a master's thesis from an aerospace engineering student who took an internship at TAP Safety.
This model was presented in Brussels in May at the first Aviation Safety Forum in Europe - SAFE 360 °, which provides the public with a comprehensive multisectoral picture of safety issues, focused on key risk areas, and a toolkit for possible mitigations. Industry recognition came in October, with the publication of EASA's Guidance for the Implementation of FDM Precursors, which recommends industry-wide implementation of this model.
This reference, now made by the European regulator, was preceded by extensive work identifying precursors of the most common accident typologies in the industry, in which TAP also stood out and contributed to the publication of four documents released to the entire aviation world.
“It is a great pride to see the role of TAP teams recognized in building a safer aviation environment globally for all those who fly and work in it,” says TAP Safety Manager Gonçalo Naples, recalling that “in addition to this technical work, security only exists with the daily contribution of each of us individually in the performance of our duties. "